The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Bits of Treasure Found in a Few Schools

on November 12, 2017

Today’s post gives information from an article written by Linda Jacobson and posted in Education Dive on 11/6/2017.

P.S. Because I will be attending the NCTE Convention later this week and visiting family for Thanksgiving I will not post anything more until December 1st.

Only one day after writing about how bleak the public education world looks to me, I stumbled on an article about what is happening in some states, school districts and individual schools. It gave me hope that those actions will increase and spread to schools around the country

To be specific, the article reported on the activities of certain school districts and schools in various states that were reaching out to students to get their opinions and give them the power to change things they disapproved of in their school.

I was deeply impressed by what some schools are doing to give students a voice in decision making, creating new courses and changing unpopular school practices. Unfortunately, however, there was too much information in the article for me to cram into my post.  What I have done instead is list the areas that were covered and mention the names of a few schools and students that stood out. I urge readers who want to know more to go to the original article and get a full picture of school executives’ actions and students’ participation in determining what should be included in a schools’ program.

School Districts and Schools Responding to Students Concerns and Seeking Student Voices

Greece Central School District near Rochester, NY, has removed requirements for uniforms in physical education classes

Arcadia High School has given 13 minutes to all classrooms at beginning of school day for students to hold discussions

Alcott College Prep in Chicago is one of 60 high schools to add student voice committees as part of the Chicago Public Schools’ civic

Lawrenceville School in N.J. seeks student participation in decision-making; polls students on school practices

Thirty Chicago elementary schools have committees that meet after school to discuss student leadership and make proposals for change to administrators

Helpful Organizations

“Joe Foss Institute” campaigns to get states to make civic education a more prominent part of the curriculum.

“Sound Out”  works with schools to increase student voice

“Youth Truth” does student surveys in  schools that reveal students’ positions on many issues, such as bullying and academic rigor. It also uses surveys in developing Local Control Accountability Plans, which include parents

Students’ Actions

Students at Arcadia High school organized a National African-American Read-in one year, and afterword designed a 12th grade English course that would focus on interests of marginalized populations. Three other high schools in the district also adopted such a course.

James Wellemeyer, a senior at Lawrenceville School created a 150- page e-text book on youth involvement in politics. He also reported that “My school polled students about workload and reduced weekend homework as a result.”

Anthony McCall, a 12th grader at Arcadia High School says, “Activities so far this year have included a field trip to a public market to learn about the history and the cultures represented, as well as discussions over issues such as not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.”


One response to “Bits of Treasure Found in a Few Schools

  1. Sharla says:

    Hi Joanne! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I have sent you several emails over the past couple of years, but have not heard back. Do you have updated contact information to share? Lots of love, Sharla


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